Bloggers do regular postings on social media tend to use photographs that are copied and downloaded straight from the Internet. Now its fair to say what is on the Internet is fair game when it comes to posting photos, right? Well not so.
As the explosion of bloggers continues there is one-thing journalists do know that most bloggers don’t, and that’s Media Law. There are more and more lawsuits these days to define what is fair use and what is copyright infringement.
One of the largest and most public cases was the Associated Press vs. Shepard Fairey lawsuit of 2012. The infamous Obama-Hope poster created during the 2008 Presidential campaign went viral, contributing to stickers, t-shirts, banners, and posters all over the nation. It was determined that the photograph used was copyrighted by an Associated Press photographer taken during a press conference where he was sitting right next to actor George Clooney.
Both sides sued and counter-sued citing copyright infringement and the fair use act. The case was eventually settled out-of-court.
17 USC Section 107 of the Copyright Act states:
“The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”
Now if you can understand that, you may have grounds for winning if ever taken to court. But if you don’t, stick to either giving the photo an attribute (photo credit) shoot it yourself, or invest in stock photography site. There are many sites out there that can give you great images with good resolution.
Better be safe than sorry.